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BHS Cross-Country Team Captures TVL & Division 6 Crowns

Nov 30, 2017 06:00AM ● Published by Kenneth Hamwey

Shown (from left) are Michael Reissfelder, Ethan Carr, Cam Hasselbaum, Philip Jones, Brandon Gillcrist, Justin Laferte, Brandon Williams, Ben Youkilis, Dan Kurczy, Will Desrosiers and coach Peter Lacasse. (Submitted photo)

story by KEN HAMWEY, Bulletin Sports Editor

The Bellingham High boys cross-country team has earned a special place in the school’s athletic history. Coach Peter Lacasse’s squad became the first cross-country team at BHS to go undefeated in dual meets, the first to win a Tri Valley League championship and also the first to capture a Division title. Space on the BHS gym wall will now be needed for a new banner, citing the team for its Division 6 and TVL titles.

Lacasse couldn’t be happier. The TVL crown is his second since arriving seven years ago as coach of track and cross-country. In 2014, his boys outdoor track team won a TVL championship. The veteran coach, however, is acutely aware that the school’s cross-country success is the direct result of having runners who value hard work and understand commitment.

“I look at the two titles as a great achievement by student-athletes who sacrificed and worked hard for their success,” Lacasse emphasized. “The kids are quality student-athletes—five of them are on National Honor Society. It’s a thrill for me to lead them and to see the program grow, but it’s also nice to see good people achieve their goals.”

Winning the TVL meet was a major plus, but capturing the District title was the equivalent of adding a sectional championship to the trophy case. The meet, held on Nov. 11 at the Wrentham Developmental Center, was a lopsided triumph for the Blackhawks. The result was never in doubt. BHS finished first with 33 points, Georgetown was a distant second with 110 points and West Bridgewater was third with 133 points.

The Blackhawks had six of the top 14 finishers. Michael Reissfelder was Bellingham’s first finisher but second overall. His time for the 3.1-mile course was 17:20.9. Cam Hasselbaum was fifth (17:37.5), Brandon Williams was sixth (17:38.1), Ethan Carr was ninth (17:47.2), Brandon Gillcrist was 11th (17:50.5) and Philip Jones was 14th (17:57.4).

“Our kids got out quickly and remained in a close pack,” Lacasse said. “They held their positions well and a few even moved up. It was a race that we dominated. Before the season got underway, we talked about the possibility of winning the TVL meet and the Division 6 meet. The kids believed winning both was realistic and they achieved those goals. Winning both has made the season very exciting.”

The TVL meet was a battle between Bellingham and Dover-Sherborn. The Blackhawks, who placed five runners in the top 22, defeated the Blue Raiders, 63-73, over the 3.1-mile course at McCarthy Park in Medfield. Westwood was a distant third at 107.

Reissfelder led the BHS contingent, finishing fourth in 17:14.6, and Carr managed a ninth-place finish with a time of 17:36. The other top finishers for the Blackhawks were Jones (11th at 17:50.4), Williams (17th at 17:54.3) and Hasselbaum (22nd at 18:15.8).

“We talked about getting out to a good start and the boys put themselves in a solid competitive position,” Lacasse said. “We ran well, Dover-Sherborn came on strong at the end but we had enough to win. The boys executed well and, when it was over, there was plenty of elation and jubilation.”

Lacasse credits the squad’s unblemished 6-0 record in dual meets as a big key to the TVL triumph. The six victories came against Hopkinton, Medway, Ashland, Millis, Dedham and Dover-Sherborn. “Going unbeaten laid the foundation for added confidence,” he said.

One more meet remained for BHS—the Division 2 All-State competition on Nov. 18, which was held after the Bulletin deadline. Lacasse is fully aware that his Blackhawks will be facing elite programs with top-notch runners. “The TVL and Division 6 victories give us confidence for the All-State race,” he said; “and, since our key runners return next year, the All-State meet will provide valuable experience.”

Following are comments from Lacasse on his nucleus of eight runners:
  • Justin Laferte (senior captain): “He led captain’s practice during the summer and kept all the runners motivated. He’s tough and always willing to sacrifice for the team. He’s a pure leader.”          
  • Michael Reissfelder: “A junior with good speed. He’s an intense competitor and he’s very consistent. A basketball and baseball player, he’s one of our top runners.”
  • Ethan Carr: “A junior with excellent endurance. He works hard on developing speed. Another true competitor who’s one of our top runners.”          
  • Philip Jones: “An extremely hard-working junior who’s a determined competitor. He’s his No. 1 critic, always striving to improve.”
  • Cameron Hasselbaum: “Only a freshman, but he’s finished in the top four all season. He’s got lots of endurance and his speed is good. He’s got a lot of talent.”
  • Brandon Gillcrist: “A junior with excellent endurance, he has the ability to close at the end of a race. He’s at his best during the last 1-1/2 miles of every race.”
  • Brandon Williams: “A junior with good speed who progressed well during the season. He’s run his best races at the end of the schedule.”
  • William Desrosiers: “An eighth-grader who’s placed seventh or eighth all season. He’s not intimidated by older competitors. He’s got decent speed and endurance. He will earn a varsity letter as an eighth-grader.”
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